Canadian Muslims urged to boost security with beginning of Ramadan

News Agencies – July 30, 2011

A week after a massacre in Norway fuelled by anti-Islamic sentiment claimed the lives of 77 people, Muslims preparing for Ramadan across Canada are being urged to install surveillance cameras and bars on mosque windows, and to talk to police and school principals about emergency plans should an “incident” arise. The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, based in Ottawa, is calling for these and other measures as part of its “Muslim Community Safety Kit” sent out to Muslim associations across the country this week.

There have been reports of mosques being vandalized and other incidents in Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Waterloo – some following the 9/11 attacks, others after the uproar over a cartoon depicting Mohammed in a Danish newspaper in 2005, and more recently around the well-publicized burning of a Quran in Florida. According to a Statistics Canada report released in June, the number of hate crimes increased by 42 per cent from 2008 to 2009, the last year for which statistics are available.

Mosques here have been taking safety precautions for years, said Salam Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal. But along with locking doors and trimming shrubs around buildings to stop culprits from hiding out in them, Montreal mosques have also been opening their doors to the non-Muslims.

Muslim Council of Montreal responds to ban on religious instruction to toddlers in Quebec

The National Post – December 17, 2010

After eliminating denominational education from schools, the Quebec government announced plans to extend its ban on religious instruction to toddlers. The new policy will make it illegal for workers in the province’s network of subsidized daycares to teach their charges, aged five and under, about a specific religion. Teaching religious songs, including many Christmas carols, will be off limits, as will crafts with a religious connotation. Government inspectors will enforce the rules beginning next June.

The initiative was sparked by media reports last spring that some subsidized daycares in the province were offering Muslim and Jewish programs to toddlers.
Under a system created in 1997, parents pay just $7 a day to send their children to state-subsidized daycare. The government covers the balance, approximately $40 a day. There are currently about 2,000 subsidized daycares in the province offering spaces for more than 120,000 children. Ms. James said a tiny minority of those facilities — about 100 — currently offer some degree of religious instruction.

The Muslim Council of Montreal said it hopes to mount a legal challenge to the new policy. “We view it as explicit discrimination against the rights of religious communities to educate their children in the values and principles they hold dear,” said Salam Elmenyawi, the council’s president.

Québec’s bill 94 hearings closing for now

Hearings on Bill 94, the Quebec government’s proposal to set guidelines on the reasonable accommodation of religious differences — including banning Islamic face coverings in some circumstances – are closing. Several critics have underscored the brevity of the hearings. Louise Beaudoin, the Parti Quebecois immigration critic, noted that in the hearings, no one has offered a ringing endorsement of Bill 94, with the first Islamic group to testify describing as “Islamophobic.”
Ms. Beaudoin also noted that Bill 16, an earlier attempt by the Jean Charest government to deal with so-called “reasonable accommodation,” was abandoned by the government in the face of opposition. It was also confirmed that hearings would resume in August. An aide to Jacques Dupuis, the government house leader, said this was for “scheduling reasons.”
Salam Elmenyawi, chairman of the Muslim Council of Montreal, said that if the move indicates the government intends to back down on Bill 94, he welcomes suspension of public hearings. “It’s clear this law is made against the Muslim community,” he said. Bill 94 was presented after two Muslim women wearing niqabs were expelled from French courses for immigrants because they refused to remove their face veils.